With the MARFAM April theme GOD AND FAMILY still in mind what has Easter 2022 meant for me and you? Did it mean a weekend spent in Church participating in the various liturgies and the variety of ways in which we ourselves and the churches we visited created meaningful settings. Did we visit, party or stay at home and spend much time on line, with internet and TV screens?
I loved the sunflower Easter Sunday theme for new life at St John’s church in North Riding, Johannesburg, and also a Franciscan friar led Washing of Feet reflection at a church in Singapore. I have come to enjoy visiting there during the months of lock-down. Pope Francis and the Vatican liturgies are edifyingly beautiful, traditional and solemn. I also watched some movies recommended for Holy Week viewing. However, to be honest, participating by singing in Handel’s MESSIAH on Good Friday evening was probably the spiritual highlight for me. Maybe because I had prepared well for this.
After such a week, and my last week’s Family Weekly newsletter called it a wholly holy week, it did suddenly struck me that something, somehow, feels like it was missing. The name Jesus has hardly come up in the many celebrations, events and also in many traditional Easter hymns. There was much mention of Christ, Messiah, Lord, King of Kings, Lamb of God and of course of God, the Father. When I shared that thought a friend responded that maybe we have ignored or taken away the human side of the man, Jesus, and the “what and how” of his experience. Maybe the formal things have all been very spiritualized and more remote.
Is that the old tradition? We modern day family people, Catholics and other Christians, are used to the name Jesus, not so much as a title but a name of a person, ideally a friend, someone we know and love intimately. I am quite pleased that my own MARFAM daily reflections on Jesus and the angels, using an Ignatian imagination approach have allowed me a moment every day of the week to be present with Jesus in the action taking place. But the formal parts of this wholly holy week seemed to be on a different plane.
The movies that had been recommended for the week were not specifically Jesus focused, but another list of “Jesus movies” arrived in my inbox today from Jesuit Fr James Martin. The Easter solemnities may be over, but the Easter season continues for 50 days. These Jesus movies can accompany us as we continue our spiritual pilgrimage. He notes that many of them are quite old, like “The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965 and still great)” and “King of Kings (1961 now seen as boring) ” also “Jesus of Nazareth, (1978 still very good viewing)” “Jesus of Montreal (1989 a modern passion play)”, Jesus Christ Superstar,(1973 rock opera, if you like that music) ” The Last Temptation of Christ, (1988, like some of these others includes the role of Mary Magdalene)”. All these present sometimes very different images of Jesus. the man who was God made man, The Word incarnate. We could also not forget “The Passion of Christ”(2008) and “The Chosen”(2021). The Jesus story is being relived in many ways in our era of 24/365 non-stop media presence, of a reality of conflicts, major wars, poverty, and many social ills. Climate change and environmental destruction have not featured yet from a Jesus perspective, but no doubt they will soon. What is the message that Jesus, who is the Christ, is bringing each of us, our families and Our World, a Family of Families? Is it not still love, “love one another, as I have loved you?” with the hope of Resurrection joy and eternal life. TR FAMILY WEEKLY 20 APRIL 2022.